Calligram – Askesis

UK set Calligram has a sound which somehow manages to be as seductive as it is debilitating, though even that kinder temptation is fiercely invasive and senses crushing, and comes to a tumultuous and compelling head within the band’s new album, Askesis. Its title means “the procedure of demonstrating self-control and determination of action and purpose”; acts which in sound, emotion, and animosity are skilfully embraced and menacingly twisted across six transfixing punishing tracks.

The successor to their well-received Alan Douches (The Dillinger Escape Plan, Every Time I Die, Darkest Hour) mastered debut, Demimonde of last year, London based Calligram have taken its bleak and often distressing atmospheres and textures to new inventive lands and heights within Askesis. Across its blackened hardcore bred inescapably immersive soundscapes, it teases and taunts, caresses and violates; emotionally and physically devouring the senses, suffocating them as it rips shreds off their suffering hides. Yet it is a joy to fall before, the grooves and infectiously venomous hooks and twists it conjures a masterful salve to the toxic malignancy unleashed.

Opener Della Mancanza instantly invades and sears the flesh of ears with the pestilential tones of vocalist Matteo Rizzardo to the fore swiftly followed by a tide of sonic animosity veined by grooves which just inflame attention and appetite. It is a rabid tempest of punk, black, and death metal; a mercurial but inhospitable scourge which just hits the spot even as it expands its atmospheric grasp and virulent hostility. The guitars of Bruno Polotto and Tim Desbos are a persistent enticement and malefaction, both extremes colluding in the song’s animus where the rhythms of bassist Smittens and drummer Ardo Cotones are similarly anthemic and destructive. Whether in  a rabid charge or its moments of ruinous calm, the track is unstoppably compelling, an irresistible incursion on body and imagination led by Rizzardo’s individual assault, his rancor leaving ears bleeding and scarred just as you imagine his throat is under his friction wearing delivery.

For personal tastes, the release never quite hits that stunning peak again yet savages the sweet spot time and time again starting with Sinking Into Existence. From its first breath, the track is a torrent of sonic violation and vocal torment within black metal smog but again the guitars weave some beguiling melodic toxins and lures to entwine eager ears. There is a predatory side to the track too, a calmer but no less threatening trespass which lifts the song to new captivation and richer emotive depths before Scourge envelops the senses with its own considered but rabid grudge. Again Calligram merge raw essences and viciousness with melodic enterprise and beauty, everything tainted in varying degrees but equally fascinating as it heads towards a passage of murderous rock ‘n’ roll and haunting sonic corrosion, and out again; Rizzardo magnetically guiding the creative pestilence.

The brief dark elegance of Murderess lures the listener into the waiting clutches of Entwined, itself a slim provocation on body and imagination but one spawned from the coupling of cancerous discontent and melodic suggestiveness. Both pieces are connected by emotion and craft, drawing the listener deeper into the album’s heavy anguished fuelled heart and the irresistible embrace of closing track Lament. A tapestry of styles and flavours all soiled and violated by the unique touch of Calligram, the song is an adventure which ebbs and flows, twists and turns; the listener’s thoughts and emotions making a similar journey within its beguiling asphyxiation of their senses.

It is an end as potent and outstanding as the beginning, and with the middle something pretty special too, Askesis is a must for fans of extreme metal, raw hardcore and simply punishing excellence to check out.

Askesis is out now through Basick Records; available @ http://music.basickrecords.com/album/askesis

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Pete RingMaster 30/11/2017

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